Nighthawks has been a staple of home video from the VHS era on but it’s taken a while to get a blu-ray release. Shout! Factory has answered the call for this title by releasing it as part of their Shout Select. The result is a nice “special edition” treatment with extras that also corrects a long-problematic audio issue for this title.
The transfer utilized here captures the film’s gritty look nicely, particularly in the frequent night scenes and dark interiors. Color also jumps out in a new way in some spots: for example, look at the interior of the fashion shop where Lindsay Wagner’s character works. The lossless audio offers a 2.0 presentation of the original mono mix and it sounds nice for a single channel mix, with a nice bass boost to Keith Emerson’s score. Fans will be happy to know that this presentation of the film has all the music intact, including the oft-omitted use of the Stones’ “Brown Sugar” during the disco scene.
Since this is part of the Shout Select line, it comes with a series of extras. Here’s a breakdown of what is included:
Herb Nana interview (16:10): this is an audio recording of a chat with Stallone’s former personal manager, who served as a producer on this film. He reveals he was the one who suggested Rutger Hauer for the villain role and gets into the thorny issues of studio re-editing on the film and the dismissal of its first director, Gary Nelson. As you might imagine, he speaks about Stallone and his work with great fondness.
James Contner interview (24:37): the film’s director of photography weighs in on a number of topics. He offers his own account of the “Stallone vs. Nelson” disputes, praises Hauer and talks about doing a stunt of his own to capture a point-of-view shot for the cable car scene. He also a very interesting anecdote about a conflict with Stallone during the shoot.
Lindsay Wagner interview (10:29): She talks about how this role began her post-Bionic Woman career and laments the studio editing that took out several scenes she had with Stallone, whose work she compliments. There’s also some interesting material about she almost pursued a singing career around this time.
Catherine Mary Stewart interview (4:24): the cult fave actress packs a lot into a few minutes here. She reminisces about her first impression of Stallone, the intensity of Hauer and his clever acting technique and her embarrassment at the bad dubbing she was subjected to in the final version of the film.
Paul Sylbert interview (9:49): Sylbert is better known as a production designer but he also wrote a few scripts. He gets into the substantial differences between the original script he wrote and the finished version, how he came up with idea and the inspirations for different characters and plot elements. He relays it all with a subtly acidic sense of humor.
Randy Jurgensen (10:50): the film’s technical consultant reveals he was originally supposed to play the role that Joe Spinell plays in the film. His other comments are devoted to the turbulent nature of the production, including his version of Nelson’s dismissal and his disagreements with the filmmakers about the ending.
Additional Extras: a full-frame theatrical trailer, three radio spots and an image gallery with tons of stills.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Nighthawks, click here.